Walking may be hazardous to your health

Walking…we take it so for granted. Just last Friday I was walking effortlessly, no thought required. No planning for how to get myself around.

In fact, in our current state of car-less-ness (that means we don’t own a vehicle) I walk more than I drive, or ride. It helps that we live about a five-minute walk from the clinic where we work, so walking to the office is simple, something I do in all weathers.

Last Friday I was walking to work, as usual. Laptop bag, phone, and coffee in hand, I was within sight of the door when I mis-stepped…tripped…slipped…something happened. Suddenly, I was flat on the ground, everything I was carrying scattered around me, and I got up with that stunned and shaky feeling of “what just happened?!” You know the moment when you’re not sure if you’re about to laugh or cry, or laugh and cry.

Well, you know how awkward you feel in these little situations. As I began to very carefully pick myself up, not sure yet if I’d done any real damage, embarrassment kicked in, and my initial shock turned to hope that no one saw my spill. I felt like a cartoon character with the wind knocked out of me and my dignity spilled on the ground with my coffee. You know the very flat version of a cartoon that’s suddenly one dimension? Yep!

Not that I have that much dignity to be concerned with…I’m not one to walk around thinking too highly of myself. But it’s never fun to be upright one moment, and splatted on the ground the next. It’s the shock factor, you know?

I gathered myself and my belongings, beginning to think about my technology and hope it was all safe (only a few months ago I dropped my phone and experienced the trauma of a shattered screen, and let me tell you, that left a mark!). I got inside the door and then hobbled to my office to inspect me and my things for damage.

Skinned knee, check. Cracked glass on my phone, check (though this time it was only a lower corner, so not quite as devastating as before). Laptop was ok, thankfully it was in a padded case. Coffee was mostly saved, thanks to my indestructible container! 🙂

The real damage was to my foot. There were no protruding bones, but it hurt. It hurt quite a lot, actually! I was wavering between “I think I’ll sit down and cry about this” and “no, no, I’m fine, really!” You know, that song and dance you do when you hope if you downplay a situation, it’s going to be ok without intervention. If you need intervention, that’s never good.

So x-ray? No, I’m really ok, thanks! Something for the pain? I’ll just grin and bear it, I’ll be fine! (Big smile here!)

I remembered I had a conference call scheduled that morning, so I decided to go back to the house and join the call while I sat with my foot propped up. I dug a bag of frozen green peas out of the freezer drawer and put it over the now-rapidly swelling part of my foot. Ahh…better!

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Ouch, that hurts!

I babied it all weekend. And it did feel a bit better by Monday. But wisdom said it would be best to have it x-rayed and know for sure if I’d fractured anything.

Peter, the x-ray tech at the clinic, was hopeful right along with me. He told me he’d x-rayed breaks that weren’t swollen at all, and injuries that looked terrible but were fine. So I confidently thought my foot would fit in the latter category…not pretty, but hey, I was walking on it, right? Well, limping, anyway.

Um, no, not right.

The radiologist’s read found a fracture in the 5th metatarsal. It’s the type that sometimes doesn’t heal well…you have a “non-union” of the fracture, and 20-30% of these breaks end with surgery to repair the damage. That’s a wee bit alarming to hear.

So this is my new look, for the coming weeks:

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My summer fashion statement

No cast, but a rigid-sole shoe that keeps me from bending my foot as I walk-limp around. I’m pretty motivated to be compliant. I have no desire to be in the 20-30% group and be meeting a surgeon later this summer! My hope is to be done with my new shoe by late July. I’m traveling then, and I really don’t want to be sporting this lovely look. I miss my heels already! And Riley and Jack are spending a week with us at the end of August, and I definitely need to be my fully-mobile self by then. Have you ever tried limping to catch a four-year-old?

Anyway, the whole experience reminds me just how much I take for granted. Like simple walking. The ability to go and do and manage life without crutches, boots, or hobbling around is so important.

After a vision of spending the summer in a cast, or on crutches, or needing a wheel chair to get through airports has sunk in, I’m mindful. I was told to have my foot x-rayed weekly for the next three or four weeks to keep a check on the healing progress, so I’ll do that. I was told to take calcium, so doing that. I was told not to flex my foot, so I’m trying to be very aware of that movement, and avoid anything that will stress the injury.

Who knew a simple mis-step could cause all this bother?! Still looking for the upside here. The best takeaway so far is to be more empathetic toward anyone limping around and dealing with injuries. (Not that I wasn’t sympathetic before…but now!) It’s definitely not fun, and puts a damper on life when you have to think about every step…is it worth getting up to do (fill in the blank)? And already feeling a bit off-balance makes me uncomfortably aware how easy it would be to trip and re-injure myself. I don’t like feeling limited, or lacking confidence to do the most basic thing we humans do…just walk.

If you’re walking around without having to think about it, be thankful! And be careful! Trust me, the slightest mis-step, and you too could be modeling the latest fashion in the healthcare shoe industry!

Well, here’s hoping to be done with this in a few weeks. Looking forward to wearing heels again, and having matching shoes!

 

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3 thoughts on “Walking may be hazardous to your health

  1. oh that looks so painful! So sorry for the tumble — it is very humbling to suddenly “lose our wheels” and be restricted in movement/ability. I went through that with foot surgery, where every single movement/plan had to be carefully thought out. I’ve never forgotten how limiting that feels and how jarring it is to suddenly find we can’t do what we’ve always done.

    You sound sensible about doing all the right things – so I hope you heal well with minimal repercussions. If you find the foot to still be quite swollen after healing I recommend laser therapy (chiropractic offices offer this) — it will help move the fluid up and out. I did 2 treatments post healing and then I could get back to normal shoes again 🙂 Hugs, MJ

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